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What Is the NCAA Evaluation Period?

The NCAA Evaluation Period is a specific time of year when college coaches are allowed to watch an athlete compete in person or visit their school. However, coaches are not allowed to communicate with that athlete (or parents) off the college campus. Coaches can sit in the stands during a recruit’s practice or game, as well as visit the recruit’s school. This gives college coaches a chance to talk to the recruit’s coach, teachers or guidance counselor to get a better understanding of the student-athlete’s character. After the visit, the coach may call or email the recruit and let them know how their experience was at the school or game.

The NCAA Evaluation Period is just that: a time set aside for evaluation. While coaches can’t talk to athletes off the college campus, they can still call, email, text and direct message recruits. Evaluation periods are very specific, and not all sports have them. The only sports with these periods are DI football (FBS and FCS), DI Men’s/Women’s Basketball, DI Women’s Volleyball, DI Softball, DII Football and DII Men’s/Women’s Basketball.

For more on the topic, check out former D1 football player Phill Wells in this video breaking down what an evaluation period is.

What to expect during the NCAA Evaluation Period 

The evaluation period is a time for coaches to evaluate athletes who they are seriously recruiting. By this point, the coach has been communicating with the recruit, has watched their highlight film and probably checked out their academic eligibility. The evaluation period is an opportunity to do two different things:

Insider Tip: Be aware of the impression that you leave on the people you’re around every day, and always be prepared for a coach to drop in at your school.

Even though coaches can watch recruits compete during the evaluation period, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will just show up to your game or school one day. Remember, coaches have a lot of recruits to evaluate, and they have to plan their time wisely. They are only able to visit recruits who they are seriously interested in. By the time the evaluation occurs, the coach already has a good idea of a recruit’s talent level. Instead, coaches want to see those intangibles like character, leadership, sportsmanship and coachability.

Insider Tip: While coaches typically use evaluation periods to visit high school juniors and sometimes seniors, that doesn’t mean freshmen and sophomores are off the hook. Coaches will notice any standout underclassmen who are on the team of the athlete they are evaluating. It’s not uncommon for a talented underclassman to receive questionnaires or general mail from coaches after an evaluation takes place at their school.

When is the NCAA Evaluation Period?

For all the DI sports not listed below, the NCAA has established a basic recruiting rule around evaluations. Coaches are able to evaluate each recruit seven times throughout the year. Those seven evaluations are a combination of two different types of in-person visits:

Of the seven in-person evaluations coaches can make per recruit, no more than three of them can be evaluations in which the coach is able to talk to the recruit and their family. Thankfully, it’s up to the coach to keep track of these in-person evaluations; however, it can only benefit you to know what the rules are.

Insider Tip: You should always be prepared for a coach to visit you. However, because each coach has a limited number of evaluations per athlete, they will probably schedule their visit with you rather than just showing up.

Division I Football FBS

Division I Football FCS

Division I Men’s Basketball

Division I Women’s Basketball

*A prospective student-athlete may not make an unofficial visit during the July evaluation periods unless she has signed a NLI or the institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid, or the institution has received a financial deposit from the prospective student-athlete in response to an offer of admission

Division I Men’s/Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field

Division I Women’s Lacrosse

Division I Women’s Volleyball

Division I Women’s Beach Volleyball

Division I Softball

Division II Football

Division II Women’s Basketball

Division II Men’s Basketball

Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.

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